By Cuyler Meade
An Arizona State Sun Devil is getting another shot at the big show as Jeff Ayres (formerly Jeff Pendergraph) was signed to a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ayres found out about the call-up early Friday morning.
“Honestly I was really excited, but I was half asleep!” Ayres said in a phone interview Friday. “My agent called me this morning at like 7:00 and he was like, ‘Jeff, you up?’ and I said, ‘Yeah I’m up what’s up?’ and he was like, ‘Pack your stuff!’ and I just said, ‘Oh, ok let’s go!’ and I’ve just been up going non-stop ever since this morning. I’m really excited.”
Ayres, who’s been playing in the NBA’s D-League with the Utah Jazz affiliate in Idaho, will fill the lineup spot vacated by the Clippers’ trade of Josh Smith to Houston. He says playing in the D-League has helped him a lot.
“I’m just grateful, having an opportunity to get out there, having the confidence of playing in the D-League and getting some minutes and getting the rhythm and the flow of the game and using the D-League to develop,” Ayres said. “I’m not going to go up there and play outside myself, but I’m going to talk to coach and whatever he needs me to do I’m going to do it as hard as I can.”
The 28-year-old forward has played 220 games in the NBA, including 73 games and 10 starts in the 2013-14 season with the San Antonio Spurs. He’s yet to make a significant impact in the league after being drafted as the first pick of the second round by Sacramento in 2009. He was the first overall selection in the most recent D-League draft.
Ayres had a productive career with Arizona State, and still sits at sixth in career win shares in the Pac-12 since 1995. He’ll offer the Clippers front-court depth at the end of the bench and, with Blake Griffin still out with a quad injury, might have a shot at some minutes as Doc Rivers continues to shuffle his rotation around in the star power forward’s absence.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Ayres said. “Only thing I know about Doc is what I’ve seen and playing against him in the playoffs, but I know guys on the team and it’s going to be nice to get out there and just hopefully make it stick.”